#TeamHandsome Tackles Skateboard Homophobia
Alright, so first off, I’m going to get a lot of shit for this post – just want to say this up front and get it out of the way. So this is a disclaimer, I run the risk of marginalizing homosexuality and offending homophobes at the same time. Two for the price of one. Score! Skateboarding, in all of its decades of reinvention and reincarnation, has officially become “sexy.” While girls (and guys) may have always accepted the notion that male skaters – being the rebels without a cause that they naturally are – are attractive, “sexy skateboarding” – the kind that increases marketability threefold – is absolutely a thing now. Ask GQ, ask Playboy, ask Esquire Russia. All of which went out of their way to get a hold of skateboarders for spreads and interviews in 2013.
Eric Koston ollies for Esquire Russia
Not to say that physically attractive skaters are a new thing (remember the fan clubs for Christian Hosoi and Tony Alva’s heydays?), but the stock for good-looking, dapper pushers is in heavy demand, while their access to pop cultural lanes (modeling, brand ambassadorship, movie roles, music video cameos) is wider than ever. Because let’s be honest; social media and the Interwebs have turned many of us into very vain boys and girls, reactive to all sorts of visual stimulation. And for business, that means that there’s a lot to be had in terms of influence and capital. This flux and cross-section in popularity makes skaters, now more than ever, big time trendsetters.
Shirtless Hosoi for ’80s Jimmy Z ad
Now meet Dylan Rieder, single-handedly the most outstanding and nonchalant proliferator of “sexy skateboarding,” in my eyes. He’s collaborated with a vineyard on a limited edition wine, which means he’s classy. He co-owns an antique shop inside of London Frog silversmiths in New York City’s Lower East Side, which means he’s cultured and well-travelled. Oh, and he’s the handsome devil that accompanies A$AP Rocky and some gorgeous ladies in the new DKNY campaign, making him a stylish sex symbol. He also wears all-white get-ups pretty well, tucks his tank tops into his skate trousers and paints his nails black, which may make him a bit “suspect” in some opinions. But, he also happens to skate for HUF and be one of the baddest motherfuckers on four wheels, in this Rat’s opinion.
Dylan Rieder & A$AP Rocky for DKNY
And now for the Dylan Rieder paradox. While it’s human nature to disdain that which we don’t understand, readers should note that Dylan has been the subject of much-heated skate hate (note to self, need to coin this phrase). His general sense of style and avant-garde aesthetic pisses some people off. Why? Maybe to them it comes off as pretentious? Weird? Gay? Fair enough. Whatever the case, when shoe sponsor Gravis dropped his signature loafers a few years ago, cats were mad at the fact that said shoe looked like they were more fitting for David Bowie than a skateboarder (even though they all secretly coveted them, according to bromie and skate OG, Jason Dill). Dylan’s response? He didn’t really give too many fucks and proceeded to skate and even produce an amazing video part (see Gravis’ Dylan.) that featured him ripping like a manimal in the questionable footwear. And that’s sort of his gift, that fuck-what-you-think-I’m-still-gonna-rip-and-stay-gold-Pony-Boy kind of attitude that you’d be too hard-pressed to talk shit about, if you had any sense really.
Dylan Rieder’s ripper slippers
Gravis “dylan.” ad
And if for some wild reason, you do still find time to hate, Dylan’s got about 59k+ Instagram eyes and possibly more Tumblr sites dedicated to his godliness (Fuck Yeah Dylan Rieder) than Ryan Gosling. The point? Regardless of opinions, he’s a very sought out gentleman. And when you’re talked about so much by the boys, and still beloved by the ladies, there’s a certain level of clout that comes with the territory. Almost like that of a controversial artist or a polarizing icon of sorts, both of which are pretty hard-to-deny characteristics in Rieder’s personality. On the surface, the newfound artistic freedoms of influencers like Dylan Rieder can mean that the historically patriarchal (and heterosexual) nature of skateboarding – and all of the stigmas and stereotypes that come along with that – is now at a place where you no longer have to pertain to any particular “macho” format. In fact, one could argue that the further away from that, the more opportune and marketable your image is in this day and age. Granted, that’s kind of always been the point of true rebellion in cultures of defiance – being your truest self and definitely not some jock or poser motherfucker. Albeit, the lines do blur. Sadly, strange fashion and habits can be a bit much for the average person. Take hip hop, which I argue is a close cousin of skateboarding, for instance. As more and more of its “fans” aren’t necessarily the culture’s proliferators or practitioners themselves – thanks again to the Internet and social media – more of its “acceptable” themes and terms may be subject to change. So instead, as is the case with say an A$AP Rocky – a black rapper from Harlem – it isn’t a surprise that his biggest fans or admirers may be white girls from Paris. Or admiring black males from Paris, for that matter. Wait. Pause? No homo? Not necessarily. Because as folks like Rocky and Dylan openly partake in fashion, music, art and all of the general territories that come along with being an “artist,” they inherently draw controversy and polarity to the table. However, the fact that anyone questions their masculinity is far cry from the elephant in the room. New flash, yes, males are attracted to Rocky or Dylan because they are, at the end of the day, attractive male icons. No question there. The real issue is that hip hop, skateboarding, and all of the male-dominated derivatives of these cultures have predominantly operated under homophobic tendencies and now, we’re at a fork in the road about what’s acceptable and marketable. What’s most interesting to me is how Mr. Fuck Yeah (Dylan) has broken through the proverbial fourth wall, in that the dude is definitely aware of his infamy. So is fellow partner in crime and member of the tongue-in-cheek #TeamHandsome, Alex Olson. Not too unlike Dylan, Alex is a second generation ripper/playboy with skating abilities that have made him privy to some of the more elite aspects of the industry, from riding for Nike SB to being part of Girl Skateboards. Olson has also been the benefactor of OG, free-thinking peers-slash-mentors like Brian Anderson, who recently left Girl to start 3D Skateboards and bless the world with more original offshoots of his own creativity. He also happened to bless Alex with a book called “Fire Island,” about a progressive and thriving gay community in Long Island. That same book, according to a recent Jenkem Magazine interview, is a big inspiration for Olson’s current venture into his own rumored company. The plot thickens.